Entries in Eggs (34)

Tuesday
May132014

on the farm ~ quick spring update

 

Spring is a time of renewal and busy-ness in life, especially on the farm.  New chores and jobs seem to grow as fast as the green grass.  Here's a quick look at what's going on at Synergistic Acres...

Our Galloway CATTLE are ravenous for fresh, spring grass and we are building their daily pasture more than twice as large as normal.  Our small group of spring calving is complete and we have lots of nourishing grass for the whole herd.

The PUPPIES continue to be roly-poly bundles of energy.  They certainly have their own personalities and we are excited to meet the new owners so we can best match needs to pups.  Mara Mama is weaning the pups naturally and gradually.  Both Charlie and Mara are giving lessons on respecting elders while they eat.

Our Large Black PIGS can barely be seen in their lush pastures.  We have a group that we will take for processing soon and several litters of varying ages foraging and growing that will allow us to offer pork more frequently throughout the year.

We have a set of very sprcial Heritage Barred Rock CHICKENS, that have been bred specifically for their old-world meat characteristics for over six decades. These will soon be ready for processing.  The hens of the group have just started laying EGGS which is a nice balance to some of our current layer flock that has begun their annual molt during which they don't lay as much.  

One broody HEN that adopted an area by our barn has been sitting on eggs.  She has just a few days left and we are so hopeful that she will be successful in her hatch.  We'd be delighted to see little chicks tottering along after their mama in the yard.

The Heritage breed TURKEY poults are in the brooder, just starting to get some feathers.  They will soon graduate to the pasture pens and follow in the footsteps of the hundreds of turkeys that have enjoyed the pasture based methods we use at Synergistic Acres.

FARMER Jeff has just three weeks left of his 'day job' and then he'll get to be on summer break.  The whole FARM Family is looking forward to that!

 

What's keeping you busy?

 

Tuesday
Apr222014

the hens are working hard for you - Egg orders now open

Gathering eggs is one of my favorite chores.  I love the discovery of eggs in each nest box, noticing which nest boxes were favored that day, and the beauty of the blues, greens, chocolate browns, pinkish, light brown, pale brown and once in a while, a white egg. 

The hens eagerly run back to their pasture as soon as they see me, hoping I will scatter some soaked organic grains for them.  They busily scratch the soft dirt looking for tasty bugs.  The grass is becoming lush and they actively snip off the best parts.  Before raising chickens, I did not realize chickens ate grass (and weeds and flowers).  Our chickens are busy and curious and active!

Over the past year, we have increased our flock size to meet the demand for eggs.  We've also selectively bred some of our favorite laying breeds (Buckeye and Barred Rock) to ensure a consistent egg supply.  If you've heard about our pastured eggs, but not been able to get your hands on some, this spring is your time!  

Eggs from pastured hens are an incredibly nutrient dense healthy food and we want our customers to have a ready supply.  If you would like eggs, let us know and we can bring them into the city with us to our normally scheduled weekly drops or you are always welcome to come out to the farm.  To order eggs from us, the best way is to get on a regular schedule that we can both rely on.  Many customers receive their desired eggs every other week.  This helps us plan out our orders as we organize eggs nightly.  

We love our eggs and look forward to continuing to share them with you!

The eggs-tra info:

- - - Synergistic Acres hens are free range hens.  Their diet is primarily the grass and bugs from the pasture. They are supplemented with an organic and local grain mix.

- - - Eggs can be picked up on farm by appointment.  Additionally, we make weekly delivereies to the city to Lenexa on Wednesday afternoon/evenings and can meet up with you there.  Other locations are considered as needed.

- - - Most of our customers reserve a set amount of eggs and pick up every two weeks.

- - - Our eggs are fresh, fresh, fresh as they are packed the day they are laid!  Refrigerated, they will stay fresh for over a month.

- - - Email to start talking eggs!

This would also be a good time to share our farm with your friends.  Forward this email to a few friends and suggest they sign-up to receive farm updates.  Your support is what allows our farm to continue to offer the healthy and humane farming you love.  

Friday
Oct252013

a closer look @ our layers

The 'a closer look @' series is concluding with my favorite, the layers.  We had always heard about farm-fresh eggs and starting our farm, we knew we'd be a part of that goodness.  Visitors enjoy seeing the beautiful flock of chickens roaming about and actually gathering eggs laid that very day.  We get a lot of questions about our layers, so I'll answer them here...

THE BIRDS

Maran, Buckeye, Barred Rock, Easter Egger, Rhode Island Reds and Farm SpecialsWhat breeds do you have?

Quite the variety!  Because we aim to hatch our own layers, we have some purebred chickens and some 'farm special' birds.  Our core breeds are Buckeye, Barred Rock, Rhode Island Red, Maran, and Easter Egger.  Each breed adds a unique aspect to our flock and we love the diversity!  The breed of chicken determines the egg color.  Our colors are cream, peach, brown, green, blue, and chocolate brown.

How do you raise your layers?

Our layers live on pasture with an egg-mobile for shelter.  Their egg-moblie is like a shed on wheels so we can move them to new pasture, following the cattle, every week.  We put portable electric netting around their designated pasture, though some chickens are insistent to fly out and roam a bit more.  They are flock animals though so they generally stick fairly close to home (which is the egg-mobile as that is the consistent feature in every pasture).  

There are roosts inside the egg-mobile, where they sleep at night and occasionally hang out in the day.  The wire floor allows the poop to fall through which fertilizes the land, yet provides protection from predators.  On one side are nest boxes, a private place where the hens like to go to lay their eggs.  Interestingly, the hens tend to have favorite nest boxes over time.  At gathering time, some boxes will have a dozen eggs while others have just one, indicating at least 12 hens visited the first nest box and perhaps only one visited the other.  

tree limbs make great roostsThe egg-mobile has a ramp/door which we lower each morning for the chickens to range around their pasture, foraging and exercising and otherwise acting like chickens.  They have access to their roost (they also roost underneath on the axles in the shade) and nest boxes throughout the day.  At night, their instict is to roost, so they go into the egg-mobile and we go out at sundown and secure their door to keep them safe from predators.  That's right, every single morning and every single night, we tend to the layers - in addition to the daily chores.  Chickens are kinda funny when they sleep, the are practically comatose - so if we need to sort or move them, nighttime is best.

Jeff and his Dad built the egg-mobile mostly from recycled materials.  A generous neighbor gave us the wagon axle base.  The egg-mobile is really sturdy as we move it a minimum of 52 times each year to fresh pasture and it is exposed to 365 days of weather each year.

What do you feed your layers?

First and foremost, being pasture raised, they eat a lot of grass, weeds, and insects.  We supplement with an organic and local grain mix of corn, alfalfa, roasted soybeans, barley, and oats.  Our feed recipe includes probiotics, calcium, diametaceous earth and kelp meal for added benefit.  We soak our feed prior to feeding it, which increases their efficiency in digesting it.  

Why do you have roosters?

Roosters protect the flock, calling an alarm when they notice danger.  Roosters also fertilize the eggs we want to incubate to raise new layers.  In addition, they help establish the pecking order of the flock.  To keep peace in the flock, we maintain a ratio of about 1 rooster to 15 hens.

THE EGGS

best part of chores!Does a chicken lay an egg every day?

Though some breeds do, our chickens tend to lay every other day (or two) during peak egg production.  Our breeds have been selected for a variety of traits, not only egg production.  We think this leads to better chicken health overall.

How do the seasons affect your egg supply?

Chickens lay eggs in sync with exposure to light.  Our chickens decrease their egg production with fall, with the least amount of eggs in winter.  We believe nature allows that rest period for a reason and do not augment our chickens with light to increase egg production.  In spring, when daylight increases, so does egg production.  

Seasons also affect our eggs as the yolk color changes with diet and diet varies with the seasons.  The lush grasses of spring are different than the bounty of late summer insects.  However, our chickens are always pasture raised and that can be seen in their yolks no matter the season!

the girls admire the new feathers this hen is growing during her annual moltChickens molt each year (usually in fall) and do not lay as much during this time as their energies are put towards growing new feathers instead.  We stagger the ages of our flock so they are not all molting at the same time.  Hens egg production reduces after their second molt, so we add to our flock each year to maintain a consistent egg supply.

What is broody?

Hens will occasionally 'get broody' with a nest of eggs.  Usually, they find a nest with several eggs in it and sit on it all day and night.  If they stay with the nest, getting up only once in a while for the necessities, they are attempting to brood a nest to the hatching stage.  If they stick with it for 21 days, there could be chicks! 

We've only had one hen that brooded one nest of eggs.  Over the decades, most breeds have not been selected for broodiness as egg laying ceases during broody times.

Are the eggs fertile?

Yes, we have roosters with our flock so the eggs are fertile.  We've hatched out many eggs from our layers and had 100% fertility.  We gather eggs daily, so no eggs begin to develop and because the eggs you get are refrigerated, they cannot be incubated.  

How long does it take to lay an egg?

Well, the actually laying takes only a few seconds as I have personally had the pleasure of seeing an egg being laid - the egg comes popping out!  However, the hen usually chooses a nest box, settles in for a while, rests, lays her egg, rests some more and then decides to roam around again.  Like people, hens have different personalities and some of our hens seem to be all business, laying their egg in 15 minutes while others stay for hours often visiting several nest boxes during that time.  That's why we have multiple nest boxes, to allow the 'longer layers' time and space to feel comfortable.

How do you clean the eggs?

We use a soft cloth and warm water to spot wash the eggs as needed.  We want to keep the natural bloom on the eggs as that helps keep them fresh for you!  We line the nest boxes with straw to help keep the eggs clean until we gather them.

Can I get some of these wonderful eggs?

Yes!  We sell eggs by the dozen, either on farm or at city deliveries.  Many customers find it easiest to pick up an order every two weeks, but some prefer to order as needed.  You choose what works for you and we'll chat with the hens to see what they can do.I love the variety of our eggs and hope you do, too!

 

 

Tuesday
Jul302013

Eggs, Eggs, Eggs - Never enough Pastured eggs

We have had a very good problem this summer.  Our customers LOVE our eggs and often the demand for them has outpaced our supply. We have a couple solutions planned to help with this. We currently have many 4 - 5 month old pullets (young hens) who are growing and will be ready to lay soon.  It takes almost 6 months before a hen lays her first egg.  Additionally, we will be incubating even more eggs to hatch this fall.  These chicks will be ready to lay in the Spring of next year.

Eggs from pastured hens are an incredibly nutritrient dense healthy food and we want our customers to have a ready supply.  If you would like eggs, let us know and we can bring them into the city with us to our normally scheduled weekly drops or you are always welcome to come out to the farm.  To order eggs from us, the best way is to get on a regular schedule that we can both rely on.  Many customers receive their desired eggs every other week.  This helps us plan out our orders as we organize eggs nightly.  

We love our eggs and look forward to continuing to share them with you!

 

Wednesday
Jun192013

a personal pet peeve of mine

Are you buying what you THINK you are buying?

Just a short two years ago, I didn't understand the labels on egg cartons.  I truly thought free-range chickens had access to pastures and that cage-free meant chickens lived outside.  I thought the beloved organic label meant living naturally, acting like a chicken.  It's not that the marketing told me that specifically, but rather that the image was encouraged on the packaging by lovely pictures of red barns with expansive green pastures AND I was basing my perceptions on my own experiences of a few small flocks I had seen.  You know, like at Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead!                                                                                                    
I also used to think that brown eggs were more natural than white eggs.  I thought the brown organic eggs at a wholesale grocery store were probably just as good as the ones I got from a farmer friend.  And possibly they were - depending how the chickens are raised.  Brown eggs are a more traditional 'fresh from the farm' color simply because some of the breeds that did well on old-fashion farmsteads laid brown eggs.  The egg industry has simply bred for prolific laying and it happened to be a breed that lays white eggs.  However, the egg industry decided to add value to their egg - feed the chicken organic feed and select a breed that lays brown eggs - and began charging more for this difference (generally while still debeaking the birds and raising them in tiny cages).                                                                                                                                               
The outside color - white, blue, green, brown, cream, pink - doesn't indicate quality in the least.  It's the inside color that showcases the quality of the egg.  A rich, near-orange yolk is proof positive that the bird that laid it had access to a variety of forages and insects.  Also look for a thick, firm yolk and strong albumin (the white part).                                                                                                                                                                    
          
What "Free Range," "Cage Free" Chickens Really look Like by The Healthy Home Economist is an article that gives a peek into what an egg with lots of nice labels on it really comes from.  The most important thing I gleaned from the article is the reminder to know where your food comes from.  Decide what is important to you and vote with your food dollars.                                                                                
In the case of eggs, if chickens eating all organic grains is important, buy organic eggs.  If you want to know that the chickens that laid your eggs were not confined to a cage, buy cage-free.  If you want chickens that browse pastures and free-range on grass, then look for pasture raised.  It's important to find out if your perception of how your food is raised matches your beliefs because every time you make a purchase, you are sending a message.
It's not easy.  Not only do you need to make a conscious decision about what is important to you, but you also might need to do some researching to find out if those labels mean what you think they mean.                                                                                                                                                                                                             
My pet peeve is when someone judges a product based on looks alone and decrees that it is the same as another product.  The brown egg I put in a carton is unlikely to be the same as the brown egg you might find at a grocery store and is possibly quite different than the egg raised at a different small farm.  As a food advocate for yourself and possibly others, you have to ensure that what you think you are buying is in fact what you are buying.
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Synergistic Acres - 21733 Iliff Rd, Parker, KS 66072 - 913-735-4769
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